Six types of cancer caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) can be prevented by getting an HPV vaccination. It’s that simple.

HPV vaccination is our best defense in stopping HPV infection and preventing HPV-related cancers in our communities. Despite the vaccine being safe and effective, HPV vaccination rates remain low.

HPV vaccination is cancer prevention

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital recently launched the HPV Cancer Prevention Program to reduce HPV-associated cancer deaths locally and nationally through increasing HPV vaccination rates. This way, we prevent adult cancers by vaccinating children.

To do this, we first need community engagement to build a grassroots network of trustworthy information. This is complemented by leveraging existing and new partnerships to increase awareness and opportunities for vaccinations. Another vehicle for more vaccinations is through health care providers and health systems. Finally, we also have a public policy and advocacy component to further raise awareness of this simple solution for cancer prevention.

An investment in HPV prevention

Development of this program began in response to the 2016 Biden Cancer Moonshot initiative that highlighted the impact of HPV-associated cancers and the need to do more to prevent them. Two years later, in 2018, the St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center joined all other National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers to call for increased HPV vaccination and screening to eliminate HPV-related cancers, including cervical cancer and five other types of cancer in men and women.

How can you help?

Here is what you can do to support this bold World Health Organization goal to increase rates of HPV vaccination, prevent HPV cancer and save lives:

  • Get vaccinated against HPV, if you have not been and are in the eligible age range.
  • Encourage others to get vaccinated. Normalize HPV vaccination as cancer prevention.
  • Share the facts: HPV vaccination is safe, effective and durable. It prevents six types of cancer.

HPV vaccination is a major milestone on the path to cancer prevention. HPV vaccination is safe, effective and long-lasting – and HPV is a virus we all can beat.

St. Jude has made a $12 million commitment to send this cancer prevention message, raise vaccine awareness and address this public health threat.

Changing the HPV vaccination paradigm

I have more than two decades of experience in social and behavioral sciences and cancer prevention and control. My research also involves implementing evidence-based interventions through partnerships with people and groups to boost HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening.

Since 2006, we have had a safe, effective and durable vaccine that prevents six types of HPV-related cancers in men and women. But vaccination rates are lowest in areas of the Southeastern and Mid-Southern U.S., where HPV-related cancer rates are high. There are also vast differences in vaccination rates among specific populations, and this initiative will address those inequities.

The focus has to be cancer prevention because that’s what HPV vaccination is. Success means future generations won’t have the burden of HPV-related cancers to treat. I look forward to joining forces with our global, national and community partners to improve HPV vaccination rates.